View Full Version : water vs. herbal tea for proper hydration

Steve Liberati
02-26-2008, 06:56 AM
For awhile I was on a herbal tea kick, drinking about a 3/4 of a gallon a day (with some water in b/t meals but not much). Read several posts touting the benefits and how herbal tea works better to hydrate your system. Not to mention the fact that my trips to the bathroom (or side of the road ha!) were greatly reduced.....worked out great too since I'm on the road a lot during the day. So recently I put herbal tea on hold and went back to drinking water. At least a gallon of it a day. Now it seems like I'm running to the bathroom practically every 10 minutes. Its a real PITA to be honest.

Since I'm pee'ing every 10 minutes now does that mean I was dehydrated before and finally flushing everything out? In other words is the number of flows say anything about your hydration level?

Any ideas?

Garrett Smith
02-26-2008, 10:31 AM
Here are Dr. Ben Kim's thoughts: http://drbenkim.com/drink-too-much-water-dangerous.html

We need electrolytes to absorb water. We also need a proper balance of electrolytes to blood volume. Plain water is not absorbed through the gut very well, and it dilutes the blood volume to electrolyte ratio, so the body is constantly trying to get rid of it.

Herbal tea contains electrolytes, hence it is absorbed better and the body is not constantly trying so hard to balance the blood volume to electrolytes (ie. PITA peeing every 10 minutes!).

I drink about 3/4 gallon of herbal teas (14 oz. of that is coffee) a day. My urine volume is relatively small considering the amount I drink and has some color to it. Against all conventional wisdom, I honestly feel this is a better situation than drinking plain water all day, peeing clear, and always feeling thirsty.

Here's the other thing. The conventional wisdom says to drink plain water all the time and pee clear (or close to it). That, in and of itself, is enough to make me want to NOT do it.

BTW, in the summer I do increase my herbal tea intake by at least 32 oz. (1/4 gallon) a day.

I don't believe your "flushing" idea is correct. I believe the increased number of urinations is simply because your body is constantly trying to dump superfluous water that is not being used, and I believe this process consistently repeated is very detrimental to the kidneys. I also like the idea of herbal teas giving the kidneys something to "pull against", electrolyte-wise.

I just don't buy the "drink more water, then drink some more" conjecture.

Steve Liberati
02-26-2008, 07:34 PM
Thanks for the post Dr. G. Back to herbal tea I go....

Greg Battaglia
02-27-2008, 12:54 AM
Interesting post, i was wondering about that myself. I initially suspected that the mineral/electrolyte content of herbal tea created the hydrating effect, but that has confirmed it for me.

Steve and I discussed this not too long ago, but what is the consensus in regards to the pharmacological effects of drinking so much herbal tea. For instance, I believe chamomile has an effect on melatonin levels in the brain which causes the relaxed feeling (correct me if I'm wrong). This causes me to question what might occur if such effects are continuously occurring on a regular basis.

Garrett Smith
02-27-2008, 07:14 AM
My method for not getting too much of any one type of herbal tea is to use multiple different types of tea. Today, for example, my mix is:

1 bag organic green tea (TJ's)
1 bag organic dandelion root tea (Traditional Medicinals)
1 bag organic ruby red rooibos spiced chai tea (TJ's)
1 bag organic chamomile

Obviously, the "nutrient" profile using multiple teas is likely better than doing all one type, and the risk of overdoing one tea is less. If I had a health issue, I might use more of one particular type of tea (ie. I use dandelion root as a liver tonic, you might be interested in that one Greg) for a while. Multiple types also allows for a variety of "flavors".

Steve Liberati
03-01-2008, 06:51 AM

Just got my bloodwork lab results back (CBC, metabolic Panel, Lipid Panel, etc) and saw that my "specific gravity" was higher than normal. It was 1.031 (1.005-1.030 is normal).

Quick googling of "specific gravity" leads me to WebMD where I find:

"This checks the amount of substances in the urine. It also shows how well the kidneys balance the amount of water in urine. The higher the specific gravity, the more solid material is in the urine. When you drink a lot of fluid, your kidneys make urine with a high amount of water in it which has a low specific gravity. When you do not drink fluids, your kidneys make urine with a small amount of water in it which has a high specific gravity."

Seems to indictate to me that I was not drinking enough fluids (I was drinking mainly herbal tea for weeks prior to the test) and now have my doubts as to whether the tea was doing its job to properly rehydrate.

I think I'm going to try drinking my 8 tall glasses of water a day with the herbal teas more as a addition.

We'll see how it goes.

Garrett Smith
03-01-2008, 01:11 PM

There are a bunch of factors here to consider.

Your specific gravity is a urine test, not a blood test.

There are many reasons why those undergoing intense CF-style GPP could have an elevated urine specific gravity. The two main ones are dehydration and excessive sweating, both/either of which are possibilities.

From Wikipedia on specific gravity (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Specific_gravity_%28kidney%29):
The role of the kidneys in humans and other mammals is to aid in the clearance of various water-soluble molecules, including toxins, toxicants, and metabolic waste. The body excretes some of these waste molecules via urination, and the role of the kidney is to concentrate the urine, such that waste molecules can be excreted with minimal loss of water and nutrients.

Take the above for what it is worth. Note parts about concentrating the urine and getting rid of toxic/waste products. If the kidney was better able to concentrate the urine, because it wasn't constantly dumping superfluous water, while at the same time ridding the body of large amounts of toxins and waste (also possibly increased due to your adherence to Paleo/IF), those factors could easily result in an elevated specific gravity.

Also, labs make errors all the time. Never forget that one!

Diluting herbal tea 1:1 with plain water may be a real solution for your concern, as opposed to taking them separately.

Steve Liberati
03-01-2008, 01:23 PM
Thanks Doc for your help! I will give your suggestion a try.

Greg Battaglia
03-01-2008, 05:10 PM
Very interesting. Thanks.

Mike ODonnell
03-02-2008, 11:03 AM
so where does the "mineral water" that is so famous for long term health in Europe fit into the picture? Better than straight water? Good thing to add in here and there? Not worth the $3 a bottle?

Garrett Smith
03-02-2008, 06:34 PM
Honestly, I don't think it is worth $3 a bottle.

Hot mineral spring baths are likely worth the money, though!

Ari Kestler
03-03-2008, 06:37 AM
so where does the "mineral water" that is so famous for long term health in Europe fit into the picture? Better than straight water? Good thing to add in here and there? Not worth the $3 a bottle?

TJs sells bottles of fiji 1.5L for $1.79...probably the cheapest I've seen it. I don't know why (probably marketing) but this water tastes really good.

Margie Lempert
03-06-2008, 06:49 PM
From what I understand, Fiji and Volvic have a less acidic Ph balance than, say, Poland Springs (which is a big one in the northeast).

Michael Miller
03-18-2008, 03:04 AM
Dr. G, when you say your daily mix is...

1 bag organic green tea (TJ's)
1 bag organic dandelion root tea (Traditional Medicinals)
1 bag organic ruby red rooibos spiced chai tea (TJ's)
1 bag organic chamomile

Do you mean that you mix those all togather for a one pot brew that you drink throughout the day, or are you drinking each tea individually?

I have been making a 64oz pot of decaf green tea, adding 64oz of cold water on top of that, and sipping on the brew all day long.

Garrett Smith
03-18-2008, 05:44 AM
I use four tea bags (all mixed together) to brew two consecutive coffeepot-fulls of herbal tea. I'd say in all, I make just short of a gallon of herbal tea with the four tea bags--obviously the first pot is stronger than the second. I drink about 3/4 of it, my wife has the other 1/4. My wife also drinks her share out of the second, weaker brew--I like that because she is pregnant, so there is even less chance of her overdoing any one herb.

This morning, since I've been a bit more stressed lately, I brewed up 2 bags of chamomile and 2 bags of TJ's Mint Melange.

Your mix sounds just fine, it wouldn't be that much "weaker" than mine.

Michael Miller
03-18-2008, 03:07 PM
Thanks, im going to try some different blends.